Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Wednesday: 16 April 2014

The Baby Tanks of April  -  @ 11:19:19
I know you're wondering about the box turtles. I know I am!

I've seen one box turtle, last Friday April 11th, and that was from a distance as it was doing a little wade in Goulding Creek. It was a small one, and it spotted me immediately as I appeared ten feet above on Goulding Cliffs overlooking its idyllic soak. Before I could get the camera positioned, it had scurried into deeper water and under a root mass. I made my way down to the bank, and waited for it to reappear for awhile, but no luck, and obviously no photos or identification.

So this was three weeks after the earliest date I've previously seen a box turtle. I'll have more to say about this.

Yesterday we'd just finished a 1.42" rain and the temperatures were cool - just 61 degF. I took a walk along Sparkleberrysprings Creek, and at the upper end, I found this little grouping of nine-banded armadillos rooting around in the litter.

It was eight years ago when I saw my first armadillo, just outside the front door late at night. Even then I noted the path of destruction it had laid in rooting up the ground.

From yesterday, in the photo below, you can sort of see that groundwork. They're looking for grubs and annelids, earthworms and insect larvae. Whatever they can find.



Notice that every nose is embedded into the dirt. They were extremely busy, digging up the detritus. They're about the size of my boot, maybe even smaller. As I've noted before, they group as fours, because that's how they're born - identical quadruplets. They seem to remain together in close proximity as kids. They never get farther away from each other than a few feet, and then they get all anxious.

As I also mentioned before, I seem to have little impression on them. I don't know whether they're fearless or oblivious, not that I am a target of either concern. One snuffled right up to my boot, which for all I know may have resembled another armadillo. Only fast movements caused them all synchronously to scurry under some leaf piles, where they all completely disappeared, together.

Here's how close I was able to get, slowly. I'm standing right above them, as much above as I can get and still take a photo.



Our neighbors asked about the long tracks and areas of upheaval that they had noticed, a couple of years ago. I was pretty sure it was armadillos. From the above photo you can see the long track of exposed dirt at the upper right that makes it pretty clear.

I still have to admit, they're cute as all hell, but they still don't belong here. Yet we'll have to deal with them.



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